Joys and challenges of relationships in Scotland and New Zealand rural midwifery: a multicentre study

Susan Crowther*, Ruth Deery, Rea Daellenbach, Lorna Davies, Andrea Gilkison, Mary Kensington, Jean Rankin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


Globally there are challenges meeting the recruitment and retention needs for rural midwifery. Rural practice is not usually recognised as important and feelings of marginalisation amongst this workforce are apparent. Relationships are interwoven throughout midwifery and are particularly evident in rural settings. However, how these relationships are developed and sustained in rural areas is unclear.

To study the significance of relationships in rural midwifery and provide insights to inform midwifery education.

Multi-centre study using online surveys and discussion groups across New Zealand and Scotland. Descriptive and template analysis were used to organise, examine and analyse the qualitative data.

Rural midwives highlighted how relationships with health organisations, each other and women and their families were both a joy and a challenge. Social capital was a principal theme. Subthemes were (a) working relationships, (b) respectful communication, (c) partnerships, (d) interface tensions, (e) gift of time facilitates relationships.

To meet the challenges of rural practice the importance of relationship needs acknowledging. Relationships are created, built and sustained at a distance with others who have little appreciation of the rural context. Social capital for rural midwives is thus characterised by social trust, community solidarity, shared values and working together for mutual benefit. Rural communities generally exhibit high levels of social capital and this is key to sustainable rural midwifery practice.

Midwives, educationalists and researchers need to address the skills required for building social capital in rural midwifery practice. These skills are important in midwifery pre- and post-registration curricula.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-49
Number of pages11
JournalWomen and Birth
Issue number1
Early online date21 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2019


  • rural
  • midwifery
  • social capital
  • sustainability
  • New Zealand
  • Scotland


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